Support group has no beginning or end. New members join, others move on. If a year teaches them anything, it is how to let go of broken dreams. Tomorrow will be different.
Mary Lorentz, Cliff Lee, Jack Grable and Ed Thompson still have their spouses in nursing homes. Phil Germaine moved Carol into Bon Secours three months ago.
Ruth Mooney and Evelyn Ramm still care for their husbands at home; Gary Smith still cares for his mother at home.
Millie Gundlach's husband died in January. She attends meetings occasionally.
Carol Ross, whose husband has been ill, has not attended meetings for months.
Myrna Seddon joined a different support group.
[Times photos: Cherie Diez]
Cheri Whitaker lives in Fort Lauderdale and serves latte and biscotti at a Barnie's coffee in the mall, far from the world of Alzheimer's. She still drives to St. Petersburg to visit a white-haired woman who struggles to recognize her: "I will feel better when Mother dies. It's always hanging over my head."
George Hoffman faithfully attends support group. He has made a few unfruitful forays into geriatric dating, even picking up a sample of Viagra at a Senior Expo. After escaping one date that turned sour, he thanked a photograph of his departed Lucille. "I think she is directing me somewhat."
Gil Nichols volunteers at the Alzheimer's Association and Bayfront Medical Center. She wears her husband's wedding ring on a necklace. Her house sports new carpet, and the bed she and Dick shared for 49 years went out the door. Though she swore she never would leave the group, she quit eight months after Dick's death: "I don't need to hear that anymore. I should leave room for somebody who needs it."